GOP presidential wannabes flip-flop on global warming

For Republican presidential contenders who once supported combatting global warming, the race is heating up. Faced with an activist right wing that questions the science linking pollution to changes in the Earth’s climate and also disdains big government, most of the GOP contenders have stepped back from their previous positions on global warming. Some have apologized outright for past support of proposals to reduce heat-trapping pollution. And those who haven’t fully recanted are under pressure to do so.

The latest sign of that pressure came Thursday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was pulling his state out of a regional agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, saying it won’t work. While Christie, a rising GOP star, has said he won’t run for his party’s presidential nomination, some in the party continue to recruit him.

“Republican presidential hopefuls can believe in man-made global warming as long as they never talk about it, and oppose all the so-called solutions,” said Marc Morano, a former aide to Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, one of the most vocal climate skeptics in Congress.

Morano now runs a website called Climate Depot where he attacks anyone who buys into the scientific consensus on climate change. Enemy No. 1 for Morano these days is Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who in 2008 shared a couch with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad backed by climate change guru Al Gore.

In it Gingrich says, “We do agree that our country must take action on climate change.”

Since that appearance, Gingrich, who once ran an environmental studies program at a Georgia college, has called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s also spoken out against a Democratic bill that passed the House in 2009 that would have limited emissions of greenhouse gases and created a market for pollution permits to be bought and sold.

But that hasn’t been enough to satisfy conservative critics. Gingrich, who in 2007 told The New York Times that it was conceivable human beings were playing a role in global warming, went further in a recent interview when he said he doubted there was a connection between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels.

“The planet used to be dramatically warmer when we had dinosaurs and no people,” Gingrich told The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph last week. “To the best of my knowledge the dinosaurs weren’t driving cars.”

Where Gingrich has waffled, other GOP contenders have conceded on the issue of climate. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman potentially come into the race with even more climate baggage, since all three supported as governors regional “cap-and-trade” programs to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. All have since abandoned that stance.

“Everybody is instantly suspect about these guys,” said Mike McKenna, a Republican strategist working with GOP leaders in Congress who want to prevent the EPA from taking steps to curb global warming. And it’s not because the candidates once thought global warming was legitimate, McKenna says. “That just makes people question their judgment. It’s that they all bought into a big government program. That makes people question their character.”

It’s a marked turnaround for a party that just three years ago nominated Republican Sen. John McCain, who long has supported cap and trade to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and who campaigned on the issue even though it put him on the same side as his opponent, Barack Obama.

In fact, the whole idea of a market to trade pollution credits came from the Republican Party. It emerged in the late 1980s under the administration of President George H.W. Bush as a free-market solution to the power plant pollution that was causing acid rain. It passed Congress nearly unanimously in 1990 as a way to control emissions of sulfur dioxide.

But now it has become synonymous with partisanship and political risk. Legislation to use the pollution credits approach to curb global warming passed the Democratic-controlled House in 2009, with the support of Obama. It died in the Senate after Republicans labeled it a “cap-and-tax” plan that would raise energy prices and after House Democrats who voted for it were attacked at town hall meetings back home.

Many of those Democrats lost their seats in last November’s elections and with the House now under Republican control, Obama has said he no longer would pursue it.

The current field of Republican presidential hopefuls is working to shed what McCain’s former environmental adviser calls the “toxic political veneer” of that policy.

The biggest reversal has come from Pawlenty, who a year after signing a law in Minnesota to cut greenhouse gas emissions was featured in a radio ad for the Environmental Defense Action Fund. Joined by then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, now a member of Obama’s Cabinet, Pawlenty called on Congress to limit the pollution blamed for global warming. “If we act now,” he said in the spot, “we can create thousands of new jobs in clean energy industries before our overseas competitors beat us to it.”

Two years later, he wrote Congress opposing the Democratic bill, saying it was “overly bureaucratic, misguided and would be very burdensome on our economy.” In a South Carolina debate earlier this month, he apologized altogether for his climate past, calling it a clunker in his record. “I don’t duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away,” he said. “I’m just telling you, I made a mistake.”

Huntsman doesn’t go as far. Obama’s former ambassador to China, the country that releases more greenhouse gas pollution than any other, tells Time magazine in an interview to be published this week that it’s the timing that’s off.

As governor of Utah, he appeared in a 2007 ad for an environmental advocacy group in which he said, “Now it’s time for Congress to act by capping greenhouse gas pollution.” He also signed an agreement with seven other Western states and four Canadian provinces to reduce greenhouse gases. Since then, other states have pulled their support.

“Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment,” he says now. When asked whether he believes the climate is changing, he acknowledges the scientific consensus.

“All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring,” he says. “If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer, we’d listen to them.”

Romney changed his mind less recently. As Massachusetts governor in 2005, he initially supported a regional pollution-reduction market, saying it would spur jobs and the economy. Weeks later, he refused to sign the pact when the other states would not agree to cap the price for pollution permits.

If anyone has a clean record on climate change in the potential GOP field, it’s former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. While Palin set up a sub-Cabinet office to map out the state’s response to global warming as governor, and sought federal dollars to help coastal communities threatened by erosion, she has been steadfast in saying human beings are not responsible for climate change and that proposals to limit pollution threaten the economy.

Not all Republicans are happy with the trajectory the party is on when it comes to global warming. Former New York Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a 27-year veteran of Congress who was known a staunch protector of the environment, said he has “never been so disappointed all my life in the pretenders to the throne from my party.”

“Not one of them is being forthright in dealing with climate science,” he said in an interview. “They are either trying to finesse it, or change previous positions to accommodate the far right. They are denying something that is as plain as the nose on your face.”

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Online:

Gingrich and Pelosi on climate change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vqi6n_-wB154

Climate Depot: http://www.climatedepot.com

Huntsman climate ad: http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID17039

Pawlenty in radio ad: http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID1563

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

10 Responses to "GOP presidential wannabes flip-flop on global warming"

  1. Carl Nemo  May 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    We’re flat dead broke as a nation. With the exclusion of China, the rest of the nation’s on earth are financial basketcases too. Peoples of the earth are being bled white taxwise in order to support our failing world paradigm run by avaricious, fumbling crimpols worldwide.

    There’s no way to save the earth from a massive warming cycle. It’s happened in the past an will happen again. Folks best enjoy the heat, because it’s far more expensive and crop threatening than dealing with an oncoming ice age. Regardless of the current heat wave, we’re actually coming out of a geological, long term cold period for our planet. So between our input to the problem as a function of civilization, the planet is still getting hotter as we move into a geological period of a tropically disposed planet. In past ages, the South Pole landmass was covered with tropical species. They need to get over it and plan for such. Carbon taxing is not the way to go. It’s just another money-making scheme sponsored by shadowy oligarchs.

    I’m providing an award winning link that will bring readers up to speed as to how our era fits into the greater geological scheme of earths climate cycles. I urge readers to take the time to peruse the link and enjoy its revelations expecially the section on climate history.

    http://www.scotese.com/earth.htm

    Folks that live near coastal areas best give up their love affair with beachfront houses too. Our government needs to quit providing cheap flood insurance to folks that want to live in flood zones at taxpayer expense.

    We’re headed for more wild and wooly weather as moisture content increases in the atmosphere and the oceans heat up providing all the energy necessary for monster hurricanes as well as derivative tornadoes of similar magnitude as they make their way inland and dissipate

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Carl Nemo  May 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      Re: Second paragraph, third sentence…

      “Folks best enjoy the heat, because it’s far more expensive and crop threatening than dealing with an oncoming ice age.”

      should read:

      “Folks best enjoy the heat, because it’s far less threatening than dealing with another “Little Ice Age” from the 16th to 19th centuries which would threaten grain crops worldwide, leading to famine, along with the increased consumption of fossil fuel for heating in order to survive.

      Subsequent link supplied to explain reference to “Little Ice Age”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

      My apologies for the error.

      Carl Nemo **==

  2. woody188  May 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    You have to love the careful wording.

    “All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring,” he says. “If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer, we’d listen to them.”

    Perhaps 90 percent do agree to a general warming, but they do not agree as to what is causing said warming.

    They came so close to establishing an international system of carbon taxes and their long sought international government only to watch it all slip away in the snow fall during their big Copenhagen meeting, and again in the record low 40 degree temperatures in Cancun. We really dodged the yolk of worldwide totalitarianism thanks to the cold weather.

    It doesn’t matter that carbon trading doesn’t lower pollution, but rather gives polluters a permit to keep on polluting. It doesn’t matter that carbon taxes do not address the problem. There’s just too much money to be made. That’s why it’s largest supporters are energy companies, Wall Street and government.

    When it comes time to vote, remember that both Democrat and Republican corporate media selected candidates were all for taxing you more based on unproven science. That followers of said “science” act more like religious fanatics than reasoned and intelligent thinkers. That they use threat and censor to suppress opposing views. That it won’t matter who you vote for as they will again push for the global carbon tax when told to do so. You will flip the switch, push the button, or punch the chad for the very people that will enslave your family.

    We didn’t want nation building. We didn’t want TARP and banker bail-outs. We didn’t want the USA PATRIOT Act. We didn’t want torture, indefinite detention and extraordinary rendition. We didn’t want warrant-less spying on American’s phones, emails, library and Internet usage. We didn’t want to be groped and scanned to travel. We didn’t want war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. We didn’t want Obamacare. Why do we have these things?

    They will have a carbon tax and trading system. It is to be the monetary foundation of their world government. They have come too far to give it up now.

    • ray  May 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

      woody i think you are a little confused … 100% of scientists believe we in a warming period (even non scientists can see the trend) … 97% of scientists believe humans have made some impact on that warming trend from the release of greenhouse gases (the extent is unknown but still being research) …. 3% of scientists (all meteorologists) claim the sun did it and humans did not contribute (i guess they all think manhattan was there when the indians came to America) …. and 100% of deniers (all conservatives) do so because it costs corporations money to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases

      so how would you mitigate the effects of human impact on the environment? ignore it????

  3. frank verismo  May 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    “so how would you mitigate the effects of human impact on the environment? ignore it????”

    Here’s what we won’t ignore:
    “Edenhofer (IPCC co-chair,WG3) let the environmental cat out of the bag when he said “climate policy is redistributing the world’s wealth” and that “it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization.”
    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/554439/201011191859/The-Climate-Cash-Cow.aspx

    The science may be good, bad or indifferent. However, the political agenda driving it is transparently obvious and thoroughly deserving of the throttling it has received. It has been my pleasure these last 7 years to assist in driving the stake through its heart. As Woody points out, the job remains unfinished.

    And for the record, I have never voted for a right-wing/conservative candidate in my life.

    • Carl Nemo  May 29, 2011 at 2:30 am

      Thanks Frank Verismo for the link. I thought I’d use the search function as a time machine and see how this gathering of ‘penguins’ in Cancun at the tail end of November 2010 shook out.

      As usual there was a lot of posturing and promises, but seemingly the global warming crowd has lost some of its mojo. : ))

      They be talkin’ of 100 billion coming from the private sector for third world types which means the money will disappear into offshore accounts into the hands of the few at the expense of the many, even if in desperation they predate on corporations. I’ll supply a link that discusses the outcome of this conference ‘gathering’. / : |

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/12/cancun-agreement-rescues-un-credibility

      Carl Nemo **==

      p.s. The Guardian is one of my favorite and stalwart resources for exposing dirt on those with an agenda for us; ie., “We the People” of the world.

    • ray  May 29, 2011 at 9:05 am

      frank … i have not read the article nor do i probably need to but will in the future … my take is you have misinterpreted the statements to fit your agenda driven political beliefs …. first you do not have to vote for a right wing/conservative to believe in their agenda so that is irrelevant … second when edenhofer says policy is redistributing he does not mean or say the policy is to redistribute but rather he says that as a consequence of the policy it will redistribute … now this distinction may be lost to you but there is a big difference between the policy driving the results or the results as a consequence of … third when he says there is a mistake it is obvious that any policies which impact any disparate issues especially those as large as climate policies they must be considered in the discussion

      my interpretations are far more reasonable than your connection of dots

      • frank verismo  June 2, 2011 at 10:09 am

        Ray:
        “you do not have to vote for a right wing/conservative to believe in their agenda so that is irrelevant”

        I don’t believe in their agenda either.

        “my interpretations are far more reasonable than your connection of dots”

        Just look where ‘reasonable’ has got us.

        Frank

  4. woody188  June 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    “We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” – Stephen Schneider, Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports

    “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” – Christine Stewart, fmr Canadian Minister of the Environment

    Obama Laughed at When Referring to The Overwhelming Scientific Evidence on Climate Change. Who and what do you believe?

    • Carl Nemo  June 2, 2011 at 1:49 am

      Yeah, it’s all laugh to them on our tax debtor dime and time…no?

      They’re all a bunch of smug, criminally disposed elitiists Woody. As it’s said…”pride goeth before the fall” which is apropo to both persons as well as nations. / : |

      Carl Nemo **==

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